This week The Scene caught up with Clifford Charles who most of Guyana is familiar with as Alabama. The artiste, whose fame is still climbing since his 2006 debut of “Dem Don’t Care”, shared what he has been up to in the music business.
His two latest popular songs were “Fix It Granger” and “Guyanese Jailbreak”. “Fix It Granger” came after 17 prison inmates died during a fiery riot in 2016. According to Alabama, he hurried down to the studio the following day to work on this particular song which gained thousands of views on YouTube. Then a little more than a year later “Guyanese Jailbreak” dropped; it addressed the fire that flattened most of the prison.
The artiste mentioned that other singers in Guyana need to focus more on what is going on around them rather than just singing anything, adding that songs should be relatable to the public. The man further said that artistes should be more than Guyana and pay more attention on what’s going on in the world at large. “If I write songs alone that appeal only to Guyanese then that’s not trending…,” he said. “Guyana doesn’t have a large enough population to trend but keeping up to date with the world and writing songs on issues that are affecting the world will.
Instead of just writing and singing his own songs Alabama took to learning all he possibly could. While in Jamaica some years ago having his music mixed by ‘Bobby Digital’, the artiste recalled having to be down at the studio very early in the morning and stay throughout the day. Watching them work on his music, he was sure he could have his own studio and do the same. He learnt to engineer and produce music and now instead of having to go to other people to mix his music he does all of that on his own; his studio is called Bomb Squad Productions Guyana. He produces music for other Guyanese artistes as well.
If he did not know all it took when it comes to recording, mixing and producing music, Alabama confessed that he would have left the industry a long time ago but because of the passion he has he can afford to rely on music alone to provide for himself and family. Since his debut, Alabama said, he has never worked at another job. “Music takes care of me. Nobody has ever seen me turn a spade since I bust in 2006. The only time people see me turning a spade is because my house is building but that’s it.”
To date the singer says he has more than 200 songs written, most of which are yet to be recorded. “I’m just waiting for a big record deal; when they come I can just give them the songs and tell them to choose what they want,” he said.
The man also said that his family has been supportive. “My wife is my greatest strength… and my daughter is always there to give advice though she’s only 15.”
In addition to fast gaining recognition, Alabama said some of it has to do with his own competitors. A while ago the singer posted on Facebook that he’s the best Reggae/Dancehall artiste in Guyana which of course didn’t sit well with a number of other local artistes. Since then there has been an ongoing feud between the Dancehall artistes. Now and again, songs by other singers mentioning Alabama can be heard in the mini-buses. Alabama noted that it’s one thing to get in the competition and mention his name but that doesn’t prove that those artistes are better singers. “If you want to prove that you’re a better singer, then sing better lyrics, and show that your music is quality. Not because you mentioning my name make you a better singer.”
He shared that some studios are charging $5,000 an hour to record a song when in most cases it doesn’t take an hour to record a song and can go up to ten hours or more. Upcoming artistes do not have that kind of money, he noted. For him, it is not about the money. “I try to know an artiste on a personal level so that he can be comfortable and that way once he’s comfortable then I know I can expect the best from him.”
Some of Alabama’s hits to have gained much recognition by the public are: “Dem Don’t Care,” “No Love,” “Fix It Granger,” “Talk Yuh Name,” “Wicked Heart,” “Bombs Falling from the Sky,” “Brand New” and “This is Life.”
In April, Bomb Squad Productions in collaboration with GODEF Entertainment (a New York Company owned by Abdullah Shawnpay) and Gordon Moseley put on a show called ‘Spring Break’ at the Aracari Resort that saw the likes of Nesta Nelson, Blaze Antonio, Vybz Perry, Skelo Dan, Alabama and others performing.
Currently, the Reggae/Dancehall artiste is working on a new song “This is Love” scheduled to be released on August 23. According to the singer, he is switching it up a bit and making a change from the usual topics he sings on. This one, he said, is for the ladies. “This is Love” is about the love of his life who is in it for life.
“I’m also working on an ExxonMobil jingle and it’s sounding real nice already,” he said.
Two days after the release of “This is Love” Alabama and a number of other Guyanese Reggae artistes will be putting on their own show called ‘G-Fest’. Some of the artistes making the list to perform are: Lambi I, Alabama, Gad I Kid, Natural One, Ras Abna, Maga Man, Ila Man, Fyah Fred, Living Fyah and Zion King.
Bomb Squad Production is located at 79 Lodge Housing Scheme near the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission and across from Enterprise Nursery School.